Tuesday, 28 January 2014


Feminism is a concept which we are all familiar with. The ideology that men and women should be equals both at work and at home is one which continues to be debated by characters from all spheres of the media. It was only recently that the debate was re-opened by one of the world’s most influential characters. This character is neither a political figure nor a human rights campaigner – she is one of the world’s most successful recording artists, and she goes by the name of Beyoncé / Beysus. The recent release of her fifth album was a surprise in more ways than one, tackling issues such as bulimia (in the accompanying video for ‘Pretty Hurts’) and interspersing thought-provoking feminist quotes into the music. The star then went onto release an essay on gender politics which was published via the ‘Shriver Report’, capitalising on the singer’s mainstream success to broaden the target audience of the feminist debate.

This debate also remains relevant in the fashion industry; an industry which champions women as often as it does exploit them. The most recent scandal comes courtesy of American Apparel’s ‘bush mannequins’ which address standards of vaginal beauty established by low-budget porn. The mannequin in question is modelling high-rise sheer briefs which expose a garden of pubic hair, reminding that us that while it’s acceptable for men to boast pubes, women must instead ritually torture themselves with wax strips to avoid offence. Speaking as a man, I can say that simply shaving my face regularly is hassle enough – if I were given the option to never have sex again or wax my pubes every other day, I can safely say I would choose the former.

The most brilliant aspect of these mannequins is that they were placed in the store’s Valentine’s Day windows, directly forcing the customer to place the mannequins in an erotic context. Would men still want to have sex with their girlfriends if they refused to shave? As ever, this question is massively exaggerated and nobody is naïve enough to believe that every woman shaves ‘down there’ – there is, generally speaking, an even distribution of shaven and not-so-shaven ladies in world population. However, this is a fact as often overlooked by lingerie models and porn stars as it is by supermodels and designers. Editorials often depict nudity but, at least in the more conventional publications, they rarely depict realistic nudity. The influence that these publications have over pubescent girls is enough to convince most of them that shaven is the way forward, meaning that we need to diversify in order to promote normality.

Another issue is the outdated stereotype of bra-burning intellectuals which continues to plague the issue of feminism. Some women readily admit that they feel no need to identify as a feminist due to the word’s negative connotations; perhaps one of the main reasons that the youth population breathed a collective sigh of relief as Beyoncé sought to introduce a new, cooler breed of feminism. The song ‘Partition’ is a fresh new take on the issue, lyrically outlining the image of Beyoncé servicing her husband in the back of a chauffeur-driven car. This brazen display of sexuality is included to dispel the two counter-productive myths that plague female sexuality.

The first is that women who adopt the chauvinistic “bang anything with a pulse” mentality should be labelled as sluts both by the media and by fellow women – an attitude less applicable to the male ‘studs’ and ‘playboys’. The second is that feminists hate sex and see it as metaphorically relinquishing power and becoming subservient to the dominant male. This quote is swiftly dispelled in the French quote used in ‘Partition’, which reads “Est-ce que tu aimes le sexe? Le sexe.. j’veux dire, l’activité physique. Le coit. Tu ne t'intéresses pas du sexe? Les hommes pensent que les féministes détestent le sexe.. mais c’est un activité très stimulante et naturelle, que les femmes adorent ‘. The quote re-inforces the idea that a woman can use her sexuality in a way which should be encouraged – sex should essentially something which should be pleasurable, and not something which should be used to judge or gauge the characteristics of anybody, be it male or female. With songs such as ‘Partition’ and ‘Rocket’, Beyoncé introduces a mature, sexual woman comfortable enough to discuss sexual activity in the context of empowerment, fellatio and all.

Attitudes to sexuality always re-appear around Valentine’s Day, the most dreaded day of the year for the majority of the nation. Women buy sexy new lingerie and laser every last hair as a treat for doting boyfriends bearing overpriced chocolates and flowers doomed to wilt within a week. Hopefully this year, more women will follow the guidelines of the ‘modern feminist’ and relax their attitudes. Let’s hope that, in the wake of the ‘bush mannequins’, women feel comfortable enough to forgo their usual waxing and shaving rituals in favour of getting tipsy on cheap wine and having overly-enthusiastic sex with their significant others in the back of a taxi. It’s what Beysus would have wanted. 

No comments:

Post a Comment